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St. Margaret Mary Teens SHINE at Work Camp

St. Margaret Mary teens SHINE after painting the home of a new friend.

St. Margaret Mary teens SHINE after painting the home of a new friend.

For years Candy Rice, Youth Minister at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville, had dreamed about coordinating a local mission trip for teens. When she made this intention known to her parish last summer, Mary Doyle answered the call. Inspired by a trip her daughter, Meagan, 16, had just taken with another faith community, Mary decided it would be important that the teens at St. Margaret Mary have the same opportunity to live what they believed about serving others.

Doyle and Rice recruited a small team of volunteers to research options, and this group decided upon SHINE Catholic Work Camp, based in Houston, Texas. SHINE stands for "Serving Him in the Needy and Elderly." For twelve years this organization has offered teens the opportunity to grow in their faith and to live their baptismal call to serve in various cities throughout the United States.

What appealed to the planning team about SHINE's program was that daily Mass, team building, nightly chapel, Adoration, Reconciliation, concerts, and home-cooked meals were included. Foremost, the camp would be situated in Chicago, a neighbor to Naperville with many needs.

Over the course of the school year, the SMMP Mission Team united and began raising funds to subsidize their expenses. The team hosted a Parents’ Night Out and a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner that allowed them to pay for their transportation. Buffalo Wild Wings also donated a portion of purchases made on two separate evenings to their cause.

On Sunday, July 24 at 10:45 Mass, the parish extended a special blessing to 40 teens and 13 adult chaperones who set out early the next day for their week of work. They were welcomed home on Saturday, July 30 by family and friends with a reception.

That morning the teens shared photographs and stories about the homes they repaired and painted, donations they sorted at thrift stores, people they fed at food pantries, and children they met as they cleaned their school. Many teens expressed that they were deeply touched by the gratitude of the people they helped and humbled to witness the living conditions in these communities.

Chaperone Carol Naughton commented that “The kids really felt for one homeowner who lived near a beautiful park and a public pool that he couldn’t take his grandchildren to because of neighborhood gang violence.” Naughton explained that episodes such as these coupled with activities that focused on spiritual development made for a life-changing experience for both the teens and the adults in attendance.

Candy Rice announced at the reception that the Mission Team had already scheduled another trip for June 25–29, 2012. She expressed gratitude to St. Margaret Mary Parish for supporting their work and encouraged the teens to invite friends to join in next summer’s opportunity to shine again as a faith community.

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